Like "a Thousand Mosquito Bites": Forest Conservation as Social Movement on British Columbia's Salt Spring Island, 1999-2001



Salt Spring Island, forestry, protest, conservation


The mandate of British Columbia’s Islands Trust, created in 1974, was to “preserve and protect” the Gulf Islands lying in the Georgia Strait. There remained no restrictions on logging private lands, however, with the result that in 1999 two Vancouver businessmen purchased a 2,400-hectare tract at the southern end of Salt Spring Island for the purpose of clear-cutting most of it within two years, then selling it to developers. Threatened were large areas of ecologically sensitive habitat, the water supply of the island’s main village, and a pristine bay. In response, local residents launched a multi-faceted and highly visible protest and fund-raising campaign. The result, though private property rights remained inviolate, was the creation of a regional park, the expansion of an ecological reserve, and the preservation of a community watershed.

Author Biography

J.I. Little, Simon Fraser University

History Department, Professor Emeritus